The Energization Exercises of Paramhansa Yogananda
An essential tool for deep meditation,
radiant health and successful living
What are the Energization Exercises?
The Energization Exercises (also known as the Yogoda Exercises) are Paramhansa Yogananda’s unique contribution to the science of yoga.
In these exercises, Yogananda teaches us how to recharge the body battery and gain control over our subtle energy (prana) by using will, with awareness of energy, to consciously draw cosmic energy into the body and direct it to specific body parts.
When you can control your energy, you can also control your thoughts, helping you develop radiant wellbeing and positive habits and attitudes, find fulfillment in the present, and achieve success in any endeavor.
Most importantly, you will be able to direct your energy to your spiritual eye, helping you achieve Self-realization. Energization is an essential and foundational technique on the Path of Kriya Yoga.
“The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy. The greater the flow of energy, the greater the magnetism.” — Paramhansa Yogananda
How to Do Energization Exercises?
The full set of the Energization Exercises of Paramhansa Yogananda comprises 39 individual exercises. Once you become familiar with the routine it takes about 10 – 12 minutes to complete.
As you tense, you are using your will to consciously direct energy to the body part. Then relax the body part completely, and feel the life force that was causing the tension.
Tense and relax gradually in a smooth progression: tense from low to medium to high tension, then relax from high to medium to low to no tension at all. Tensing and relaxing not only recharges the body with energy, but even more importantly, it trains you to bring the flow of energy under your control.
It is a spiritual law that the more energy you give, the more you’ll have. Do these exercises with willingness, enthusiasm and joy and by attuning yourself to that cosmic source of energy all around you. This is Yogananda’s axiom for practicing the Energization Exercises.
Certain of these exercises call for using a double breath. This is Yogananda’s special technique that helps with oxygenating and detoxifying the blood.
To practice a “double breath,” inhale strongly through the nose with a short, sharp inhalation, followed directly by a long, strong inhalation — completely filling your lungs. Then exhale through mouth and nose with a short sharp exhalation, followed directly by a long, strong exhalation.
Tense only the specific body part and focus at the center of the muscle. These exercises train the power of your concentration and will.
If you cannot isolate a specific muscle or body part, put your mind there at the center of the muscle, and the energy will automatically flow to that part. With practice, you will get better at it!
Guided Energization Exercises Routine
“The whole purpose of true exercise is to awaken the inner source of energy which we have ignored throughout our lives.” — Paramhansa Yogananda
What are the Benefits of Energization?
Your body, your health, your happiness, your very thoughts, are determined by the level and direction of your energy. Who you are is merely a projection of a committed energy pattern.
Once you become aware, you can choose to redirect and reform your energy pattern. A daily practice of Energization is a subtle but powerful tool for self-transformation.
In the Body
In the Mind
In the Soul
How do the Energization Exercises Work?
The Energization Exercises are based on the principle of drawing the Cosmic Energy into the body through the medulla oblongata by the power of will.
The medulla is located at the point where the skull joins the spinal column on the back of the head. It is referred to in the scriptures as “the mouth of God,” and is considered by yogis to be the portal through which the energy enters the body.
“Yogoda [Energization] teaches how to surround each body cell with a ring of super-charged electrical vital energy and thus keep free from decay of bacterial invasion. It keeps not only the muscles, but all the tissues of the body, bones, marrow, brain, and cells in perfect health.” — Paramhansa Yogananda 1924, From the Yogoda Lessons
It’s best to practice the energization exercises before meditation, including the morning meditation. They are especially helpful for waking up in the morning and preparing for meditation. But there is no ‘wrong’ time to practice them! They can also be done after meditation, as a helpful way of transitioning from meditation to activity.
The usual recommended order is to do the energization exercises, asanas, then meditation. This is the sequence we follow at our Expanding Light Retreat at Ananda Village.
You may find in time that once you’ve established a strong daily practice with the above sequence you may feel to change the order. For instance, some long-time meditators find that in the mornings they are more inclined to meditate first and then energize and do asanas afterwards. This is the personal balance of the “art” and “science” of Raja Yoga!
It takes practice to feel the energy flow. In the beginning, simply try to feel the energy in the center of the body part you’re tensing. (In the relaxation phase, it may be easier to feel energy since it is no longer mixed with the feeling of physical tension.) As that becomes familiar, learn to feel the energy coming into the body part. And once that is familiar, learn to feel the energy coming in through the medulla oblongata and flowing to the body part.
There are many reasons for the practice of Energization Exercises as created by our Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. The main purpose of these unique rechargers, this specific pranayam application, is to prepare the body and nervous system for deeper meditation and God-realization.
We accomplish this in discovering, awakening, controlling, then directing the flow of prana (energy) to specific areas of our body. And we must learn to relax so we can be channels for this divine energy we seek to serve.
In this regard we use tensing and relaxing to first become aware of specific body part while at the same time sending it energy/prana. We recharge that area/limb/organ/region (energy, life-force, to some extent is already there) as if it were a dormant or undercharged battery that we are hooking up to a wall-charger, from a source much stronger and abundant. Yogananda said, “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy!”
So in this regard, once we determine and visualize what body part we are going to energize and awaken, we affirm our willingness and willpower to actually do it, and then we comply to send energy by directing, visualizing and feeling a flow of energy from the medulla oblongata (back of the head at the top of the spine).
Concurrently tensing (vibrating) the designated part of the body, then after a few seconds we relax the tension/vibration and note the feeling of that area. It should feel empowered as should you, and ready for whatever life sends your way! You will feel more magnetic, entertain better health of body and mind and be able to, as Yogananda would emphasize, “Give your body a breakfast of energy!” and keep it fit for God-realization in meditation or any activity.
The result of this technique is to give you the knowledge you’ll need to quicken your ability for deeper and longer meditations. I suggest you read or participate in our first step of the Ananda Course, Ananda Course in Meditation, where these extraordinarily practical contributions of Yogananda are explained and taught in detail. Every Ananda Center worldwide offers this opportunity to dive deep into greater awareness and joy.
The answer is, “Absolutely!” In fact, if practiced correctly and regularly, the Energization Exercises can improve physical functionality of many kinds, because they help one cultivate bodily awareness and control.
I’ve known people to gain significant benefits from practicing the exercises while confined to a hospital bed or wheelchair. Energization offers many more possibilities for the physically impaired than any other form of exercise I know, because they emphasize working with energy, not just the physical body.
One must, of course, do only what is appropriate for one’s own body. That means not inducing pain through the practice, for example, or creating higher levels of tension or movement than are appropriate for one’s physical condition.
But with that caveat, go for it – they can be very helpful. At the very least, they will boost your energy level. They might also be remedial in some way. And beyond either of those lie the extensive spiritual benefits of Energization. It really is a marvelous system.
Yogananda said if you were on an island and only knew energization exercises, you would find God.
These exercises are very important. And for new meditators, these exercises give you the needed energy to meditate properly.
They are designed by Yognananda to bring energy into the body cells so that you can more easily raise your energy up to the point between the eyebrows when you meditate.
With raised energy you can begin to understand larger flows of consciousness and broader concepts to work with.
These exercises when you have learned them can be done in 10 minutes. If you do them properly with energy, it can be done in about 15.
Energization Articles and Inspiration
Did you know? This year Yogananda is celebrating 100 years of his divine energization exercises. He is extremely happy, and
“You can energize the body at will. For its energy doesn’t depend on food, air, and sunlight alone. We live surrounded by an ocean of cosmic energy, and draw on it to a greater or lesser extent all the time, depending on our will power, or willingness, and on the clarity of our awareness.” — Swami Kriyananda, from Awaken to Superconsciousness